Kim Darroch – the Simple Explanation 235


The media is full of over-complicated theories as to who might have leaked Kim Darroch’s diplomatic telegrams giving his candid view on the Trump administration. I should start by explaining the FCO telegram system. The communications are nowadays effectively encrypted emails, though still known as “telegrams”: to the Americans “cables”. They are widely distributed. These Darroch telegrams would be addressed formally to the Foreign Secretary but have hundreds of other recipients, in the FCO, No.10, Cabinet Office, MOD, DFID, other government departments, MI6, GCHQ, and in scores of other British Embassies abroad. The field of suspects is therefore immense.

It is very important to note that this is an old fashioned kind of leak which was given to the mainstream media without the documents being published online. It is therefore pretty useless in terms of public information. We haven’t seen the documents, we only know as much as Isabel Oakeshott and the Daily Mail chose to tell us. It is not possible to envision any more untrustworthy or agenda driven filter than that. We can therefore be certain this was not a wikileaks style disclosure in the interests of freedom of information about public servants and their doings, but the agenda was much more specific.

Darroch’s scathing assessment of Trump is no way out of line with the mainstream media narrative and it is interesting – but exactly what I would expect of him – that Darroch shares the neo-con assumption that Trump’s failure to start a war with Iran over the drone take-down was a weird aberration. The leaks neither tell us anything startling nor obviously benefit any political faction in the UK. So what was the motive?

I believe the most probable answer is much simpler than anything you will find in the vast amount of media guff printed on the subject these last two days by people with no knowledge.

Kim Darroch is a rude and aggressive person, who is not pleasant at all to his subordinates. He rose to prominence within the FCO under New Labour at a time when right wing, pro-Israel foreign policy views and support for the Iraq War were important assets to career progress, as was the adoption of a strange “laddish” culture led from No. 10 by Alastair Campbell, involving swearing, football shirts and pretending to be working class (Darroch was privately educated). Macho management was suddenly the thing.

At a time when news management was the be all and end all for the Blair administration, Darroch was in charge of the FCO’s Media Department. I remember being astonished when, down the telephone, he called me “fucking stupid” for disagreeing with him on some minor policy matter. I had simply never come across that kind of aggression in the FCO before. People who worked directly for him had to put up with this kind of thing all the time.

Most senior ambassadors used to have interests like Chinese literature and Shostakovitch. Darroch’s are squash and sailing. He is a bull of a man. In my view, the most likely source of the leaks is a former subordinate taking revenge for years of bullying, or a present one trying to get rid of an unpleasant boss.


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235 thoughts on “Kim Darroch – the Simple Explanation

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  • Alasdair Macdonald

    Thank you for this perspective. It was one of the scenarios which I had considered, but my considerations are based on no direct knowledge or experience of the diplomatic service, but on reading, films, drama and our rather biased media.

    What it does reveal is the rottenness of Westminster and Whitehall and their relationship with global finance.

    The sooner, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland leave this cesspit the better.

  • Peter

    Given the man you describe Craig, it is easy to see why he appears so beloved of No 10 and they seem so loath to let him go.

    But given what he’s said and the nature of this particular president, is it really tenable for him to remain in position as the number one diplomat in Washington?

    • Jo1

      Given that the current POTUS cannot be seen to be dictating who should be in this post, I would say he must see out his time. I believe he’s due to finish up within months.

      On Craig’s summary here, it’s interesting but I heard the total opposite on NN last night concerning who would see the email. It was stated that very few people would have had access to it and so it would make an investigation fairly straightforward. I’m not sure what to believe now.

  • M.J.

    Whaaat? Swearing at Craig Murray down the phone? Blasphemy! Burn the yob! Well, he’s been burned now. Obnoxious and disrespectful people deserve to get their comeuppance, don’t they?

    Seriously, it may have been personal revenge, but the cables included information about how to influence Trump. That sort of information is surely vital to the national interest and should never have been leaked. I call that unpatriotic. So the mole deserves to be caught and punished.

      • M.J.

        Paid? I should be so lucky. No, you get my astute observations free of charge, so be properly thankful. Such as, who had the motive to bring about such damage to UK-USA relations?

  • Robin

    The ‘dead cat’ tactic came to my mind on reading of Oakeshott, Ashcroft, Mail, ‘scoop’. Add Johnson, Crosby, Farage and the ‘cat’ really stinks….but who am I but a retired old pleb who’s closest brushes with power include public meetings with my MP Tim Farron, reporting to UK Ambassador to Ethiopia on a brief kidnapping of two MPs in Dallo mountains of Somaliland in 1994 and joining Caroline Lucas to protest against fracking.

  • Vivian O'Blivion

    Darroch’s take on the Trump administration as being inept is simplistic, an opinion based on the assumption that the current manifestation of the Republican Party wishes to maintain a functioning administration to the benefit of the bulk of the population. As of November last year, Brexit has consumed much of my attention but up to that point I could give chapter and verse on the Trump cabinet, their background and agendas. The point being that after two and a half years at HUD, Ben Carson still doesn’t have a scooby what his department is supposed to do. Betsy DeVos is intent on devaluing public education to strengthen the private sector. The EPA has been in the hands of a series of functionaries intent on removing environmental protections. The Department of Energy has been in the hands of a series of lobbyists for coal. Etc., etc..
    “Inept” is not a bug, it’s a feature.

    • Wolsto

      Agreed. Trump and his shower are a spectacularly successful sideshow that keep most people distracted while a few other people make a lot of money in the short term, ignoring any long term consequences and not even pretending to act in the public interest.

    • M.J.

      Darroch may have been the opposite of nice to subordinates, but he was doing his job. Recalling him would set a bad precedent of kowtowing to any foreign government who objected to what an ambassador said. Besides giving the mole’s party what they wanted (if this weren’t just a revenge backstabbing).

        • Shatnersrug

          Try not to get drawn into debates with MJ he is another troll who pushes the govt line and derails debate. The quality of debate has been excellent here since Charles got the boot, it’s a good lesson to all of us to ignore trolls, and carry on sharing excellent information. Craig’s site is really one of the best info aggregates around, better even then twitter because everything shared is so relevant

          Thank you Craig and thanks every genuine poster.

          • M.J.

            Glossary
            troll = anyone who agrees with the UK government
            best, excellent = anything Craig writes
            genuine =approving of excellence as defined here, or being a doormat for Bill Shatner, or at least a good Trekkie

            I’ll leave it to others to assess these definitions.

          • S

            Hi I didn’t say all, I said many, employers. Sorry to hear it is an everyday occurrance in the “civil” service.

          • Bob

            as a civil servant I neither bully people or get bullied so that’s just a complete generalisation

  • Hatuey

    “The leaks neither tell us anything startling nor obviously benefit any political faction in the UK…”””

    Not so sure about that.

    • Ian

      Indeed. Have you been abreast of any recent politics, Craig? Considering the source, Oakeshott, and her associations, and Farage’s immediate, prepared response, the benefit is obvious. I am astonished you can trot that out, and however odious the guy is, there is an obvious agenda here. If it was as simple as you make it out, dissatisfied underlings, ask yourself why on earth they would give it to somebody as devious and reprehensible as Oakeshott. Just ask yourself why it would end up in her hands, and you have the biggest clue, which is far more revealing than your ‘bad apple’ theory.
      As for you interpretation of Trump’s stand down with iran, it is equally possible that he didn’t mean it was an aberration., but that it was another in the long list of Trump’s lies, i.e. there never was a plan for a strike, but it suited Trump to claim there was, which then cast him in the light of great conciliatory peace-loving dude for walking it back.
      I think your legitimate loathing of this man, coupled with your eagerness to tie him to old new Labour is blinding you to who this would benefit. It is very naive imho to ignore the nexus of contacts that radiate out from the Mail, Oakeshott, Farage, Banks, Bannon and the rest. Replaying the battles of the new Labor era are irrelevant, although a lot of Labour supporters cling to it like a comfort blanket.

        • Northern

          Clearly there’s more to this than just a disgruntled underling, but literally none of the parties involved can be trusted. Oakshott’s connections to The Integrity Initiative make the alarm bells ring immediately, but I’m actually less likely to buy that’s what’s gone on here, having read Mackey’s article. Every article I’ve read by him is just a slightly more expansive regurgitation of the official ‘liberal/US Democrat’ line, and I don’t see him as having broken form here.

          Seems increasingly like we’re (or rather, the city of London, is) the prize in a power struggle between the old guard and an emerging more uncouth version of essentially the same power structure. Would sir prefer to be slowly ground to pieces by the benevolent, federal european empire, or the express version offered by the asset stripping, society collapsing forces of the United States? Neither offer any hope to normal people, whether they voted to leave or to remain.

          • Ian

            That is very far from the ‘official’ liberal line, but it suits your purposes to dismiss it as such sniffily. As for your ‘choices’, they are not remotely equivalent in the effect they will have on British citizens.

          • Northern

            Ian, I must have missed the part where someone insulted you? Care to elaborate why the aggressive tone? I’m trying to fathom whether it’s cause I’m not pro-EU, or because I was less than charitable with my assessment of Mackey? I’m guessing the former? Either way you’d have to be blind not to have noticed the deteriorating standards of writing The Intercept are publishing. I’ve read a lot of articles by Mackey in the last 12 months and never once have I seen him offer anything outside the mainstream consensus narrative.

            You say ‘not remotely equivalent’ like it’s a self evident truth when clearly that’s a subjective measurement. Understand I have no loyalty to the EU or the American empire, I just want a better standard of living for working people and some democratic accountability for the people who we are supposed to chose to lead us. I even called it benevolent, what’s your objection?

          • Ian

            Nothing aggressive at all. I was just saying that your airy dismissal of the Intercept piece was unjustified, whatever he has written before, which I am not familiar with. It is definitely not ‘mainstream’ to connect these kind of things, which are missed by most people.
            I don’t think there’s anything particularly subjective about comparing the effects of being in the EU compared to an alt-right bonfire of regulation and corporate asset stripping. Dismissing them equally as if it doesn’t matter which reigns is just posturing in my opinion, and merely having good intentions and aspirations for social justice isn’t an answer to anything, however admirable it may be. It’s a very lexit stance, which might satisfy an abstract sense of virtue, but merely results in enabling a vicious rightwing agenda.

          • Northern

            My understanding of The Intercept is as loosely controlled opposition. They’re one of the many gatekeepers meant to divert left wing thinking into dead ends. Greenwald is the only writer there who gets any scope to deviate from the establishment line. Granted, a more complex line than you would see in other more mainstream outlets, but still very much within the window of acceptable thinking. I gave up on them when someone there (I think it was Mackey himself?) wrote a piece trying to discredit Bill Binney’s assessment that the DNC emails were leaked, not hacked. Some of their journalists supported the insane no fly zone policy the democrats were pushing in Syria at the time too. Between that and the dirty money that bankrolls it, I stopped paying attention to their foreign policy pieces a while ago, although I find some of their domestic US analysis to be better than others.

            I must say I find the last bit of your post to be a bit of a cheap shot. It’s all well and good dismissing my opinion as ‘posturing’ but if we’re not all lead by our own values then what else do we have? I only mention my aspirations for social mobility as a way to undercut the inevitable knee-jerk accusations of racism that are thrown at people who voted leave. People talk about how the USA can’t wait to carve up and privatise the NHS like the rest of society hasn’t had exactly that done to it for the last 40 years? Pragmatism and compromise are admirable qualities in the correct context, but I’m tired of being told we can remain in the EU and expect to reform it when all the available evidence I’ve seen says otherwise. We’re not starting from the position of a socialist utopia, we’re a failing corporate state clearly beholden to massive business interests already. Either way, the working class are the ones who suffer, as I alluded to in the previous post.

          • Johny Conspiranoid

            The EU option is the lesser evil. There is a theory that the US has been seeking the end of the EU since 2016 to prevent it from teaming up with Russia as one complete trading area.

          • David

            @JohnyConspirano

            Yes, recently the successful (US originated) EU project became larger than the USA in population, better than the USA in nearly every quality of life measure, improving economy (with usual bumps) and rather excellent prospects for intelligent and healthy EU citizens and future digital enterprise productions… wonder why USA pulled the plug?

            I do like ‘the States, great place, really nice people, however the research centres that I visited were desperate to recruit British & European workers (more capable of taking good decisions than moribund USA committee-led science)

            Now with UK out/on way out perhaps, EU is instantly diminished, reduced in size and Poland (for example) could be prepped for the successive Trojan horse rôle inside the EU itself.

            Might be other examples, reasons, potential pivot to the east, Silk Road two etc

  • Cynicus

    “……the most likely source of the leaks is a former subordinate taking revenge for years of bullying, or a present one trying to get rid of an unpleasant boss.”-Craig Murray
    —————
    Thanks for your thoughtful and authoritative analysis, Craig. But I am left with two questions:

    1) Why now? A bullied victim could have struck back any time in the past two years;

    2) Why select Isabell Oakeshott of the Integrity Initiative for this journalistic scoop?

  • Komodo

    Thanks for clearing that up, Craig. Occam’s Razor does the trick for me. Thought there was less to it than met the eye when I heard Meyer lauding his old chum on R4 this morning.

    Though I find nothing to argue with in Darroch’s opinion of the Trump administration…

  • DiggerUK

    “We haven’t seen the documents, we only know as much as Isabel Oakeshott and the Daily Mail chose to tell us”……
    Which begs the question as to how the ambassadors observations were slanted in the telegrams, especially those we don’t know about. I suspect they would be, in the main, exasperated criticisms revealing how difficult it now is for the political class to operate with someone from the business class who is now president. A president, to boot, who loathes the political class, but is stuck with them to operate with.

    I suspect a ‘Russian agent’ to be named as the hacker of the telegrams by bellingcat any time now, as usual they will be wrong.
    The real leak will more than likely have been organised by those in the political class who want this upstart president put back in his tv slot. Isn’t there an upcoming presidential election?…_

    • Ian

      It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if the ‘leak’ originated in the US, who will certainly be spying on the UK, and what better place to stovepipe it into UK politics to suit the alt-right agenda than their willing accomplice Oakeshott?

  • Sharp Ears

    I looked at some photos of Darroch yesterday. From his appearance, I thought him a likely candidate for a heart attack.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kim_Darroch

    Wonder what Milord Glenarthur made of him when Darroch was his private secretary. Glenarthur was the Minister of State to the EU 1987/9 under Thatcher. He was previously Minister of State for Scotland! Glenarthur has done OK for himself. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon_Arthur,_4th_Baron_Glenarthur

  • Glasshopper

    Finally an Interesting contribution to the discussion. Thanks Mr Murray. This is why i come to this site.

  • Rhys Jaggar

    Surely it must be President Putin making mischief?

    After all, the evil Russian state must be hacking my computers, so must have read two days ago: ‘if you are an assassin sent to me by President Putin, perhaps you could eliminate those highly likely to be drug dealers, warmongers, US patsies and Israeli drones?’

    Russians have no sense of humour, cannot recognise mocking English satire, after all.

    They must have identified a UK warmonger, Israeli drone and decided to have fun trying to eliminate him.

    No need to look any further, those evil Russkies are behind all anti-UK mischief on earth….

  • pete

    Re the simple explanation.

    I am really grateful for Craig’s latest post and for his clarification of the process of the sending of diplomatic cables and who gets to read them. I was not aware that they might have had many, many routes to leak from. Nor was I aware that the reporter involved in this case was Isabel Oakeshott. the famous biographer of ex-Prime Minister Cameron, she of the attempt to make the shiny faced politician look marginally more interesting than he would otherwise have been.
    That the leak was intended to settle an old grievance by someone seems to be the simplest explanation, and if what Craig says about the Washington Ambassador is correct it would seem to be a long overdue comeuppance.
    I did see this leak originally as a betrayal of trust, now it looks very different, so thanks.

  • MJ

    “the most likely source of the leaks is a former subordinate taking revenge for years of bullying, or a present one trying to get rid of an unpleasant boss”

    My interpretation is that it is related to the current Tory party leadership contest and that the leak derives from a Hunt supporter trying to undermine Johnson, who is known to have the support of Trump. Basically an exercise in guilt by association.

  • Gerrit Buis

    eindelijk iemand die de waarheid durft te zeggen, trump denkt dat hij president van de wereld is, maar e zijn sterkere en die spreken waarheid, het word tijd dat trump voor de Spiegel gaat staan, en daar een gebed leerd…. Heer leer mij te denken, opdat ik weet wat ik zeggen ga…….

    • M.J.

      Goodle trans Dutch to English:
      finally someone who dares to tell the truth, trump thinks he is president of the world, but e are stronger and who speak the truth, it is time that trump stood in front of the Mirror and learned a prayer there…. Lord teaches me to think so that I know what I am going to say …

    • Jeff

      Trump vraagt de heer om inspiratie en is het laatste dat we nodig hebben. Kijk wat er gebeurde toen Blair en Bush stemmen van God hoorden … meer dan een miljoen dode Irakezen ….

    • Tom Welsh

      “Seems that in essence you are saying – much ado about nothing”.

      Well, how else could you possibly see it? What do you think the duties of the UK ambassador to Washington are, anyway? Given that all important traffic between the two governments is one way – Washington telling London what it is going to do (and sharpish) if it wants to stay healthy and collect on its “pension”.

      The only reason the UK would even send an ambassador to Washington is for him to lick the President’s arse continuously, slavishly and assiduously, missing no spots – and perhaps the arses of any others the President directs him to lick.

      For such a creature to presume to criticize the man whose arse he was sent to lick is beyond the pale.

  • Goose

    What do you think of Jeremy Hunt’s wild speculation in which he raises the prospect that ‘the Russians may have ‘hacked’ them’? This is the Foreign Secretary for heaven’s sake! People pay attention to his words and he surely should be more circumspect in his statements.

    If these idiotic musing turn into actual accusation, given Oakeshott’s involved, well, it’ll be highly suspect to say the least.

  • Goose

    New ambassador wanted : Must state publicly the Trump administration is both ‘competent’ and ‘decisive’ .

    Darroch may be as described above, but It’s funny seeing just how thin skinned and insecure the Trump administration is. Can only imagine how easy those around him, find it to manipulate him . Surrounded by Kushner , Bolton and Pompeo , that’s more than a little troubling.

  • Sharp Ears

    Has Liam Fox of Atlantic Bridge infamy and currently the Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade, played any part in this affair? He is constantly jazzing around the planet.

    He is defending Darroch.

    Liam Fox defends UK ambassador to US in row over leaked memos
    Trade minister says Kim Darroch is ‘held in high regard’ as Farage calls for his sacking
    What the ambassador is reported to have said about Trump
    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jul/08/liam-fox-defends-uk-ambassador-to-us-kim-darroch-over-leaked-memos

  • eddie-g

    That sounds exactly right.

    Whoever the leaker was, he or she has had ample opportunity to hand over these documents, the only issue was timing. And I suspect the issue there was whether to wait till after the Tory leadership election, or drop these documents in the middle of the voting process.

    Given the way this has played out, you’d have to say fair-play to the leaker. Trump took notice, Darroch’s defenders are a flock of lame-ducks, and the next PM almost certainly has to replace him.

    That this damage was inflicted over a bunch of cables that as far as we have seen say absolutely nothing of any interest, is testimony further to media uselessness. I’ve seen diplomatic telegrams in the past, and Darroch’s comments are fully in line with the tone and tenor of how diplomats communicate. There was nothing substantive in what has been leaked, it was purely designed to embarrass Darroch and it worked because reporters are such complete nitwits.

  • Jack

    Trump is really something, refuse to talk with an envoy because his, quite harmless, views on Trump himself. Trump himself have of course as negative view on the UK gov. Its so ridiculous by Trump to do that.

    • Goose

      The lack of diplomatic self-awareness of this POTUS has been a constant feature. Foreign leaders probably spend every morning reading his tweets – for an insight into what’s on his mind.

      Previous US administrations would have probably laughed this whole incident off.

  • Kempe

    ” that Darroch shares the neo-con assumption that Trump’s failure to start a war with Iran over the drone take-down was a weird aberration. ”

    What an incredible assumption.

    As the leaked e-mails date back to 2017 this can’t be the sole reason and frankly I think a lot of people would agree with his assessment of the Trump administration.

    Anyway, the PM has announced that Darroch has her full confidence which is usually the kiss of death.

    • glenn_nl

      The emails weren’t leaked in 2017, Kempe. If someone falls out of favour, do you think leakers are restricted to providing damaging information only from that point onwards?

  • David Mac

    Treat people like shite and ii will come back to bite, they will pension him odd sooner than later. Entertaining post by the way.

  • Goose

    Ministers and the MSM state they don’t know who’s responsible.

    But a quick google search of : Isabel Oakeshott integrity initiative. Suggests they’re likely to know exactly who leaked them. It’s virtually the equivalent of leaking stuff to Luke Harding.

  • SA

    I am not sure about Craig’s analysis even though I confess I have no special knowledge. But this is a highly political leak and therefore there is a motive and there are winners and losers unlike what Craig has stated.
    As an aside the right wing and in turn the Atlanticists have now by necessity had to be either pro trump or anti trump. Even within those camps there are those who wish to publicly hide their true colours and attitude towards Trump. There are therefore high political stakes in this exposure which would force some to declare their true colours.
    The winner will therefore ultimately be those who are clearly pro Trump and of course Trump himself, who has so far, together with others like Pompeo been openly intervening in UK politics by attacking Corbyn, Khan and bring partisan towards Farage and Johnson.

  • Karrie Barden

    I think IF this is true a truer word has never been spoken. The White House is run by a man child who just wants to assert his mediocre power. Like a child with a new iPhone he spends more time tweeting than actually helping the people he was sworn to serve. In the UK if we end up with Boris Johnson it will be exactly the same. Letting these children run the roost we can only expect nobody will come out on top especially us cogs that turn the machine.

  • giyane

    So Trump was continuing his swamp-draining by de-twatting the British ambassador at five o clock in the morning.

    Trump has out-laddished the walking piece of laddish shit with the plummey tones to boot.

    I can’t unfortunately copy the Donald’s hairstyle because not enough hairs left on my head.
    But anybody who slags off Theresa May on the world stage has my sincerest admiration.
    As she slips the wad of used fivers to her successor under the cabinet table , representing the savings from Liam Byrne’s piggy bank of real pounds sterling before the currency was QE -ed.

    • Tom Welsh

      “I can’t unfortunately copy the Donald’s hairstyle because not enough hairs left on my head”.

      What on earth has that to do with it? You aren’t under the impression that it’s his own hair, are you? Your money is as good (though probably not as abundant) as his – just buy one.

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